NEW YORK – Relief, rage, and disappointment were among the emotions expressed by family members of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks after a jury Zacarias Moussaoui should spend the rest of his life in prison rather than be put to death.
"I think it's a good decision," said Monica Gabrielle, whose husband, Richard, died in the World Trade Center. "First of all, he had nothing to do with the events that occurred on 9/11. To offer the death penalty because he lied to the FBI — there'd be a lot of people on death row."
Maureen and Alexander Santora, of Queens, saw the jury's decision differently.
Their 23-year-old son Christopher was one of 343 New York City firefighters killed when the towers collapsed. They came to the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan to watch the jury's decision on closed-circuit video.
Maureen Santora said she felt happy that Moussaoui will be surrounded in jail by people he hates — Americans. She said, "I think life (imprisonment) is worse. He won't be a martyr now. My hope is that he is forgotten, and that once this trial is over no one will remember his name."
Other family members — including Alexander Santora — felt the death penalty was necessary. He called Moussaoui "guilty as sin. A bullet in his brain would have been a just reward."
Santora said he initially opposed the death penalty, but changed his mind after hearing Moussaoui testify. The defendant said he was supposed to hijack a fifth jetliner on Sept. 11 with would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid and fly it into the White House.
Patricia Reilly said she was angered by the jury's decision. Her sister, Lorraine Lee, was killed when the planes were flown into the trade center.
"I feel very much let down by this country," Reilly said. "I guess in this country you can kill 3,000 people and not pay with your life. I believe he's going to go to jail and start converting other people to his distorted view of Islam."
Rosemary Dillard, whose husband, Eddie, died in the Pentagon, said the trial sent a positive message about the U.S. justice system to the world.
"He's a bad man, but we have a fair society here," Dillard said. "It shows the world we're not going to stand for terrorists to come to our country and to be let loose."
For Christie Coombs, a sentence of life imprisonment or death would not have changed anything. Her husband, Jeff, died on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the trade center.
"Whatever the verdict was was not going to change my life at all," Coombs, of Abington, Mass., said. "It wasn't going to bring my husband back. It wasn't going to make any of these people that died walk through their doors and make their families happy."